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>> this is "bbc world news." funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. and union bank.
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>> union bank has put its global expertise to work for a wide range of companies. what can we do for you? >> and now, "bbc world news." >> catastrophe in japan. one of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded is followed by a devastating tsunami. the quaker, a record-breaking 8.9 magnitude caused widespread damage. the shaking lasted up to four minutes. after the earthquake, a 10-meter and tsunami smashed into japan's pacific coast. now that threatens a vast suewathe of the pacific basin. welcome to "gmt." a special program dominated by
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the impact of the massive earthquake that hit japan just over six hours ago. the damage is extensive. first reports suggests more than 40 people have died. the prime minister has taken charge of the disaster response. >> over a wide area, damage has been afflicted -- inflicted. i offer my deepest sympathy for the people who have suffered the disaster. >> as extraordinary images continue to come in from japan, we will bring you the latest news from their and across the pacific region. it is midday in london, 7:00 a.m. in washington and 9:00 p.m. in japan where a major natural disaster is still unfolding. the most ferocious earthquake in recent history, magnitude 8.9, struck off the northeast coast close to the city of sendai in the middle of the afternoon. it generated enormous tsunami
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waves up to 10 meters high. they crashed into the northeastern coastal areas. they are also rippling out across the pacific. so now may alerts have been declared across the region, and as far away as south america. our correspondent now joins us live from tokyo. >> here in tokyo, many millions of people are beginning to walk home. when the earthquake struck, the buildings stayed standing. but people had to hold on to their desks, hold onto walls to avoid being pushed over. now they are beginning their long journey back to their houses. the concern is further north, around the city of sendai, where the massive tsunami hit, inundating and airport, even, rolling over houses and ships. my colleague reports. >> the tsunami, a trucker by the
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earthquake, sweeping towards a plan from the epicenter -- triggered by the earthquake. it is now being described as the biggest earthquake ever to hit japan. in its destructive power, cars, votes, and even buildings -- cars, boats, even buildings, debris of all kinds. votes in the harbor find themselves tossed about in a whirlpool -- boats in the harbor. the most of the earthquake struck in the afternoon -- from the moment the earthquake struck in the afternoon. this is a local government office in the city of sendai. and this, the offices of japan that a public broadcaster. there were several colorful aftershocks within the hour -- powerful aftershocks.
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in a country used to earthquakes, the shock of the magnitude of this one is all too obvious as people spilled into the streets and tried to comfort one another. an oil refinery it burns out of control just outside of the capital. other refineries are being shut down. countless fires have been triggered. here, no one has even begun to assess the economic cost of the disaster. >> i offer my deepest sympathy to the people who have suffered the disaster. regarding our nuclear power facilities, some of the nuclear power plants have stopped automatically. but so far, no radioactive material or radiation has confirmed to have been leaked to the outside. an emergency disaster response headquarters has been set up with myself as the head.
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>> the prime minister was in the parliament when the earthquake struck. reports say power was disrupted to more than 4 million buildings in tokyo and the suburbs. transporters are severely disrupted. this is the airport in sendai as it became inundated. flights have been halted elsewhere. trains, also. military planes scrambled to assess the damage. as the wall of water surged across the countryside, authorities warned people to leave low-lying areas. for this people, it all happened to quickly. for a country with most advanced measures in the world in coping with earthquakes, trying to take in the scale. >> please, continue to remain in your evacuation venues.
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for areas where the tsunamis have not yet arrived, there is a likelihood of large tsunamis will occur. many of the countries in the entire pacific region are on alert for the impact of the disaster on them, too. in japan, and it's the deepening sludge, the death toll is rising -- amidst the beginning sludge. >> some above the extraordinary images generated in the last few hours. we will be back in tokyo throughout the program. i am joined now in the studio by our science correspondent. this was an historic earthquake, was it not? the size of it does mean we have to continue to be deeply concerned about the tsunami risk. >> that's right. it is a region that has regular earthquakes but never before has there been an earthquake so large. the seventh biggest earthquake
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ever since records began. that is how large it is. what it resulted in was a plate slipping under another, pushing up a body of water and resulting in the huge tidal wave. the tidal wave has spread in all directions. it has already hit thailand. because of its geography, it has not had that devastating effect. but as we speak, it is traveling at 500 miles an hour, this body of water, over the pacific islands. many of them tiny. already there sea levels have been raised because of climate change. there is a worry about what will happen to the people on those islands. >> and we are going to be hearing from across the pacific basin in the course of this program. stay with us. we need you here in the studio. we heard briefly from the japanese prime minister, naoto kan. he has been speaking to the nation since this disaster struck. let's hear a little bit more
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about what the japanese prime minister had to say. >> to the people of japan, you probably have already seen on television and heard over the radio that an earthquake hit of 8.4 magnitude scale. it was a very strong earthquake. and in the region, and over a wide area, damage has been inflicted it. i offer my deepest sympathy to the people who have suffered the disaster. regarding our nuclear power facilities, some of the nuclear power plants have stopped automatically, but so far, no radioactive word -- material or radiation has been confirmed to have been leaked to the outside.
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there has been no information so far. given this situation, and emergency disaster response headquarters has been set up with myself as the head. we will secure the safety of the people of japan, and in order to minimize the damage, the government will make every effort possible. and we asked the people of japan to continue to be cautious and vigilant and keep to the into the reports on the television and radio -- tuned in to the reports of a television and radio and for the people to act calmly. >> that was the japanese prime minister speaking just a short time ago. let's find out more about what
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is happening right now on the ground in japan. we can speak to someone close to the epicenter. he is stuck at the airport in the northeast of japan. if you would, just tell me straight away, how did you experience the earthquake and what has happened to you since? >> hi. it took place about four or five hours ago. the first thing i noticed was a shaking of the ground, which i didn't really -- i notice the building, actually in the airport, the building started swinging from side to side. things started moving, and that is one i realized i was in the midst of an earthquake. that lasted about four to five minutes of varying degrees of
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magnitude and intensity. mostly people that were in my vicinity were relatively calm. whether they have experienced earthquakes before, i am not sure. i saw pictures on the airport television that just showed some of the devastation that was taking place at the same time. as i said, it lasted for five minutes. then a minute later, some aftershocks, comparable in terms of scale and intensity to the original earthquake we felt. further down the terminal, there were ceiling panels that fell down, which shook some people. but i think over all there was no one who got injured in my vicinity. >> what is happening at the airport now? >> apparently, i and trying to
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book into a hotel to stay for the evening -- i am trying to book into a hotel. all flights have been canceled. flights to other regions where the earthquake has not been as devastating have taken off. but flights to tokyo have been canceled. i do have a few friends who departed before the earthquake striking, departed to tokyo, who had to turn back because obviously the runways were not there. so they are like me, trying to get flights to return tomorrow. at the same time, looking for accommodations. >> i am going to stop you there. we wish you luck in trying to find accommodations this evening. japan, of course, is in the so called ring of fire, volcanoes and trances -- trenches. severely prone to tsunamis,
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and earthquakes. the ring is in a horseshoe shape. 40,000 kilometers long. associated with a nearly continuous series of tectonic plate movements that caused tremors in japan, at least, every five minutes or so. each year there are 2000 earthquakes that can be felt by people on the ground. our correspondent joins us now from jakarta as we continue to go around the region. indonesia clearly separate tsunami damage before. what is happening now? what is the information you are getting this time? >> literally, in the last few minutes, we have heard that a tsunami has been detected right up in the northeast of the country, hitting but northern ireland's -- hitting the no. islands. it is only very small, only half a meter high. if you compare that with the
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huge tsunami that hit different parts of indonesia in 2004, that hit with a height of 23 meters. obviously, this is definitely smaller this time. undoubtably, people are still incredibly were repaired in the last few hours, when they know a tsunami was approaching, people have been evacuating the area. they are up in higher ground. basically doing little more than waiting. here, in places like indonesia and throughout the region, all the little islands that make up micronesia, and the philippines have many islands, and indonesia have many islands, these countries are poorer. they did not have the resources japan has to prepare people for earthquakes and tsunamis. people here, there is very little they can do but just wait. most of the houses are not too securely constructed with earthquakes and tsunamis in mind.
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even a wave of one or two meters can cause quite a bit of damage. >> we have been looking at the horrifying images of the wall -- wall of water sweeping across northeast japan. it sounds as if that is highly unlikely to happen in any part of indonesia. in essence, it looks like the news has turned a little more positive. >> absolutely. it is still very early. this is the first tsunami that has been detected in indonesia, so there is still an alert. people are still worried. but early indications show it is nothing like the scale of the pictures that you can see from japan, and also the pictures which are so vivid in people's minds about what happened in 2004 where hundreds of thousands died. >> thank you very much, indeed. the 8.9 magnitude earthquake is big, even for japan's standards. it is the largest to hit the country and more than 140 years.
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the history books show there have been seven earthquakes that 8 or greater sense 1891 in japan. the country, situated in one of the most seismically active areas on the earth accounts for about 20% of global earthquakes that go above six. let's go to edinburgh and our correspondent who is speaking to experts at the british geological survey which is based there. >> what is becoming clear is, this is not only one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit this region, but one of the most powerful earthquakes on record. let's find out more from a seismologist here at the british geological survey. just how powerful was this earthquake? >> this earthquake was 8.9 in magnitude, and that makes it the sixth largest ever recorded since instrumental records began. >> this map around you shows the
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seismic activity that there has been in that area in the last few days. point out what we can see? >> each of these dots is the epicenter of an earthquake. this large one is the big earthquake. but these are a little bit misleading because they suggest that these earthquakes are points, and they are not. the large earthquake, it really occurred in a box-like movement about this big. probably about 400 kilometers long and tens of kilometers wide. that is the extent of the amounts that moved. it is staggeringly large. >> the foreshocks, the red dots, and after shots in the last hour. there are closer to tokyo. is that a particular problem? >> i think it is not as surprising because we had so much fore-shock activity in the
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north part of the zone and that is where the main shocks started this morning. it is breaking from north to south. it may well be that must -- much of the energy has already been released in the north but less in the south. so the aftershocks are now occurring down here and they are sort of filling up the bits of rock that have not moved as much as they did for north. -- further notes. more detailed analysis in the next few days will show if that is the pattern or not. but that is what it looks like. >> thanks very much, indeed, for your analysis. red dots appearing on that map all the time as the aftershocks of this major earthquake continued. >> thank you very much. extraordinary insight into the seismic activity of japan in the last few hours. we will have much more on the earthquake soon. remember, for all of the latest news on the situation, not in
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japan but right across the pacific region, you can have up to our website and you can find live coverage. tweets, analysis from the region and links so you can get in touch with us. go to now, let's take a look at some of the other stories that are making headlines around the world. forces in libya lurk -- loyal to colonel gaddafi made major gains against rebel troops -- troops. rebel fighters said government forces entered the town by vote and in tanks to take full control of the area. there are reports of many casualties as hundreds of rebels in cars and trucks retreat east. it security have been increased in the saudi capital in preparation for more protest being arranged by internet activists. at least one protector -- protestor was injured last night as police used stun grenades and
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fired warning shots to disperse crowds. violence in cairo this week is stoking fears of renewed sectarian tension in egypt. dozens killed in clashes between muslims and christians. tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across in yemen today to reject the president's offer us -- of reform. it comes after the president addressed the crowd yesterday, offering a new constitution and parliamentary reform. the crowds are calling for an end of his 32-year rule. china has given the go-ahead for american falls sick -- coaxing her bob dylan to perform in beijing and shanghai. it follows weeks of speculation that his tour dates might be blocked. our reporter, happy to say, is still with me in the studio. we heard updates are around the
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pacific region. kate in indonesia, suggesting that good news, the first initial tsunami wave was lower- than-expected. is it your expectation and might be similar across the region? >> it is hard to say just based on that single observation. we are seeing it is not as high as expected in thailand, and now it has hit northern pacific islands. kate was saying that tsunami is noted to be half a meter high, which is much lower than some had feared. the physics of tsunamis are not properly understood. the panic -- depends of the initial impact of the geography. so far, there does seem to be some positive news. also, another piece of news, a tsunami is expected to hit new zealand in 5 hours. authorities there have downgrade of the warnings to a marine alert, which means there will be have a current but they don't expect much disturbance on the
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land. >> you talk about the physics. is it wrong to assume that the first big tsunami wave is going to be the biggest? >> know, that is what happened in the past -- no, that is what happened in the past. you get the initial played slippage that pushes the body of water up. it flows incredibly fast until it hits land and at that point, the way leaps up as we saw in the pictures and devastates everything in its path. now, it depends on land mass how high that wave is. i did not want to get too carried away with a half a meter on that island. but the further away, the more it dies down. >> thank you, for the moment. i and joined -- i am joined by the times newspaper correspondent in japan. what are you seeing and hearing right now? >> i'm in the center of tokyo in
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my office, which was alarmingly shaken by the earthquake when that happened this afternoon. however, certainly from where we are in tokyo, that doesn't seem to be really very much damage in tokyo. it seems to have gotten through this one. with a few cracks, a lot of alarms people. but no reports of widespread collapses of buildings. the most serious thing is a very bad fire, agent -- an inferno in the oil refinery east of the city. from what we are seeing on the japanese television is a minute by minute pictures coming through of very dramatic destruction caused by the tsunami along the northeast coast of the japanese mainland. >> richard, japanese authorities are suggesting the death toll is continuing to rise. from what you are seeing of the unfolding drama in the northeast, any sense of what sort of casualties we may ultimately be looking at?
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>> about half an hour ago, nhk, the japanese equivalent of bbc, was quoting 61. a few minutes before that, i think it was in the high 40's. it is rising all the time. it is difficult to get a sense of the scale of human destruction. japan does not indonesia or somewhere like that. -- japan is not indonesian or somewhere like that. it is a rich country that has been preparing for a long time. the new buildings are built to stand. the coastal areas have a strong concrete seawall. there also alarms in place. you often get a buzz of a mobile phone a few minutes before an earthquake arrived. this was a very bad earthquake, but having said that, japan is the best place in the world to be in the case of a very bad earthquake because people are prepared.
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so, it is not clear yet whether this is a very bad earthquake which has caused some spectacular damage or whether this is also a human catastrophe. >> richard, thank you very much for joining us from tokyo. asia's stock market and the yen have not surprisingly fallen in response to the earthquake. aaron over to you. >> starting to count the cost already. as stevens said, let us bring them up. asian stock markets taking a hit. the yen fell all in response to japan's earthquake, and of course, the subsequent tsunami. but only struck minutes before the closing of trade on the nikkei. in tokyo, it fell just around the 1.7% mark. but the big worry going forward, nikkei futures, trading after hours, fell 3%. it does not bode well for will not markets reopen on monday.
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but event like this and do have a global impact. stocks were hit and are continuing to be had worldwide in anticipation of the big payout to cover the cost of the disaster. in particular, the insurers -- >> hello and welcome. top stories from around the globe and click-to-play video reports. go to to experience the in-depth, expert reporting of "bbc world news" online. >> funding was made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. and union bank.
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>> union bank has put its global financial strength to work for a wide range of companies. what can wdoou for y >> "bbc world news" was presented by kcet los angeles.
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BBC World News
WHUT March 11, 2011 7:00am-7:30am EST

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